What may be the key factor in the benefits of this diet is that the foods are low in saturated fat and high in monounsaturated fat. Olive oil, which has the highest levels of monounsaturated fats of all the cooking oils, is the most commonly used oil in the Mediterranean diet. Studies have shown that olive oil lowers cholesterol, as well as blood pressure and blood sugar levels.
Red Wine, which is another common feature of the diet, has been known to be a powerful antioxidant. By eating foods with these supposed healthy properties, studies have shown that people living in the Mediterranean Basin have lower rates of heart disease compared to those living in the United States where fat consumption is relatively the same.
Benefits of the Mediterranean DietToday, more people than ever are discovering the benefits of the Mediterranean Diet. Though it is higher in fat than diet recommendations in the United States - 40% compared to 30% - people are successful in losing weight and maintaining healthy eating habits.
There is even a Mediterranean Food Pyramid just like the USDA Food Pyramid we are all used to. Both pyramids promote fruits and vegetables, but the Mediterranean Food Pyramid lists Olive Oil as the third highest daily intake recommendations, and it also separates proteins - fish, red meat, and nuts - unlike the USDA Food Pyramid. Red meat is at the very top of the Mediterranean Pyramid, recommending that it is only consumed a few times a month, and then only in small amounts.